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Pan American Health Organization supports countries in hurricane emergency response in Central America

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Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2020. 11:47 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Central America is mobilizing to support countries recently affected by Tropical Storm Eta and now affected by Hurricane Iota.

In emergencies, PAHO works with countries to strengthen the health sector’s capacities for prevention, risk reduction, preparedness, surveillance, response, and early recovery from emergencies and disasters related to any type of threat, whether natural, man-made, biological, chemical, radiological or other.

Category Five Iota, made landfall Monday evening along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, and is forecast to bring catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and torrential rainfall to Central America, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Member of the PAHO Emergency Operations Center, Dr. Leonardo Hernandez, emphasized damage and needs assessments, providing technical cooperation, and finalizing proposals to donors to mobilize resources as well as ensuring that public health measures related to Covid19 are enforced at shelters.

Three experts were deployed to Honduras to support PAHO’s office to cover emergency coordination management, emergency medical teams coordination, and emergency information and project management.

Urgently needed supplies and medicines have been sent to affected countries from PAHO’s Humanitarian Warehouse in Panama, PAHO’s Emergency Operations Center detailed: personal protective equipment (PPE); 5,000 liter water tanks, mosquito nets, 300 “dignity” kits with hygiene, protection and personal safety supplies.

In Honduras, Dr. Dinora Nolasco, head of the Cortez Health Region, reported that health units are completely damaged and that more than 64 health workers were affected by the rains. “We do not yet have the count of damage to health facilities because the water level has not dropped, when that happens, we will know how our health network is.”

For Nicaragua, PAHO also sent two COVID-19 kits of personal protective equipment, with gowns, gloves, surgical masks, respirators, goggles, and “face shields,” plus 138 emergency backpacks and 5,280 soaps.

PAHO also allocated supplies to Guatemala, including 100 emergency backpacks and 400 “dignity” kits for migrants.

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